PHILADELPHIA (AP) — An 89-year-old Nazi war crimes suspect died in custody hours before a U.S. ruling Wednesday that he should be extradited to Germany to face trial.
Johann Breyer died Tuesday night at a Philadelphia hospital, where he had been transferred Saturday after a month in jail, his lawyer and the U.S. Marshals Service said. His death was disclosed Wednesday just as U.S. Magistrate Timothy Rice approved the extradition request, which would have needed final U.S. government review.
Rice found probable cause that Breyer was the person being sought by German authorities over his suspected service as an SS guard at Auschwitz during World War II.
“No statute of limitations offers a safe haven for murder,” he wrote in his ruling.
U.S. marshals had arrested him in June outside his home in Philadelphia. He was facing charges of aiding in the killing of 216,000 Jewish men, women and children at a Nazi death camp.
“As outlined by Germany, a death camp guard such as Breyer could not have served at Auschwitz during the peak of the Nazi reign of terror in 1944 without knowing that hundreds of thousands of human beings were being brutally slaughtered in gas chambers and then burned on site,” Rice wrote.
Breyer claimed he was unaware of the massive slaughter at Auschwitz and then that he did not participate in it, but “the German allegations belie his claims,” the judge wrote.
/ July 23, 2014, 4:28pm / 32